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Cultural Commentary

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's conversion

Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, speaks to reporters at a press conference the Thursday following the AFC Championship game, January 23, 2014 (Credit: Denver Broncos)As this year's Super Bowl approaches, all eyes are on the weather.  Hall of Fame player Mike Ditka calls the decision to play the game outside in New Jersey "stupid."  Others think it's a "great idea."  As of this morning, the high on Sunday is forecast to be 36 degrees, with possible snow showers.

While some are watching conditions in the sky, this week we're thinking about the players on the ground.  Each day we'll discover the Christian commitment of one of the Super Bowl athletes.  Yesterday we learned the faith story of the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback, Russell Wilson; today we'll hear from Peyton Manning, quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

This season, Manning scored more touchdowns and passed for more yards than any quarterback in history.  He is famous for his charity work, very funny commercials, and numerous appearances on TV shows such as Saturday Night Live.  What is not as well known is that he has been a committed Christian for more than two decades.

In his book Manning, co-authored with his father, Peyton tells the story of his conversion: "My faith has been number one since I was thirteen years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: 'If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you'd go to heaven?'

"It was a big church, and I felt very small, but my heart was pounding.  The minister invited those who would like that assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did.  Then he invited us to come forward, to take a stand, and my heart really started pounding and from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.  But I got up and did it, and I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since."

Peyton says his four priorities, in order, are: faith, family, friends, and football.  He testifies, "My faith doesn't make me perfect, it makes me forgiven."  He describes his spiritual life: "I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don't talk about it or brag about it because that's between God and me, and I'm no better than anyone else in God's sight."

He doesn't pray to win games.  Rather, "I pray to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability."  And he has made this character commitment: "Dad says it can take twenty years to make a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.  I want my reputation to be able to make it through whatever five-minute crises I run into.  I'm a lot more comfortable knowing where my help is."

The minister who led a 13-year-old boy to Christ had no idea the platform God would entrust to that young man.  Dwight Moody noted, "There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things."  Here's the paradox: in God's hands, little things done for his glory are great things for his Kingdom.

What will you do for Jesus today?

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